Contributing Authors:

Angie Duckworth, Assistant Principal

Celia Evans, Educator

Cathleen Johnson, Educator

Here are some hints from seasoned teachers/administrators to help parents and students have a successful school year!  

Communication Between Home and School

This is so important! Parents must commit to effectively and consistently communicate with school staff and personnel. This includes, but is not limited to, attending Open House, parent/teacher conferences, and communicating with teachers via email and/or phone calls.

Perhaps your school experiences were not the greatest, however, it does not have to be the same for your child! Learning the school’s and teachers’ expectations, as well as responding and communicating with teachers when needed, will help alleviate the stress parents may encounter throughout the school year.

Remember that teachers are in their profession because they love kids and they really do want your children to succeed. Be realistic in your expectations, though, as upper level teachers can have over 100 kids each day.

Set Goals, Clarify Expectations, and Establish Routines

Most educators would agree that children thrive in a structured environment. Setting expectations for behavior and academics during the school year and reinforcing those expectations on a regular basis will allow for success in school. Simply put, regularly talk to your child about things that are going on in school regularly, whether good or bad. Creating a schedule in the household for homework and bedtime and sticking with it will help teach your child to practice useful routines.

Healthy Boundaries

Set clear boundaries as it relates to these routines and expectations, as well as for appropriate friendships, relationships, and what your kids are allowed to read, listen to, or be exposed to. Model the behaviors you wish to see in your children.

As your children get older, recognize that they are not little anymore (even if they will always be your baby!). Don’t hold their hands to walk them to class if they are 14 years old! Give them space to learn to embrace their independence.

*Special note to those transitioning from a home-school environment to a traditional school experience:

– Time Management: Most home-school students are used to the flexibility of that schedule and can struggle when faced with a more structured day that includes tardy bells, designated bathroom breaks, or stricter daily time-frames and deadlines on subjects, assignments, and tests.

– Self-governance: Raising hands to ask a question or learning how to navigate the give-and-take of a group discussion or lesson can be an adjustment to students who are used to having regular or uninterrupted access to their home-school teacher or who are used to smaller groups or class sizes.

– Boundaries and intentional planning play a big a role in helping your children make this transition and their teacher can let you know if they are seeing any issues, so keep those lines of communication open!

Parental Involvement

As your schedule permits, get involved in your child’s school. Volunteer when asked for special outings, events, or activities, and if that’s not possible, see if you can send in needed items or supplies throughout the school year. Teachers will be glad to let you know how you can be a help if you just ask!

Homework Help

Even if you can’t do advanced mathematics, you can still take an active role in checking to see if your child’s homework is done. If there were 15 math problems, check to see if your child has done all 15 and shown their work. Check their grades online through the school’s system regularly and help them establish a homework planner or other system to help them keep track of assignments and due dates. And, please! Shut off distractions (TV, devices, etc.) during their homework time!

Don’t get caught up in feeling like you can’t help, but be focused on getting your child the help they need, whether it’s from you, a tutor, or community resources.

Conflict Resolution

If an issue arises in the classroom or school building, attempt to resolve the issue calmly, maturely, and professionally. First, plan a meeting with the teacher or school personnel to discuss any incident that occurs. When meeting with the school staff, be professional, remain calm, and allow everyone at the table to speak. Parents should also be prepared with talking points or topics to be discussed and ask any questions you may have, so at the end of the meeting there is no question unanswered.

Secondly, and this may be a difficult one for most parents, understand that children sometimes lie and parents must give the teacher the benefit of the doubt. Teachers are not in the business of getting students in trouble. There are always two sides to every story told. When you are angry or upset at something that happened at school, give yourself a little time before you send an email or make a call.

Seek Outside Resources

If your child is experiencing academic, emotional, or behavioral problems, communicate the issue with the teacher and seek outside resources when needed. There are a vast number of local agencies that are eager and willing to help students become successful at school and at home. Parents should address the issue before it becomes unmanageable, schedule an appointment with a specialist, and communicate the outcome to the teacher.

Allow for Downtime

Children are often expected to perform at a high level on a daily basis. This is especially true when the school year begins, and the daily expectation of a high academic standards is re-introduced following summer break. At the beginning of the school year, it is likely that both parents and students will experience increased levels of both mental and physical fatigue. Everyone will need a break after school!

Because of this, and to avoid the potential for complete exhaustion, it is important for parents and students to allow for downtime following their work and school days, which may include simply resting, running around for a little while, or recreational activities. This may also include a break for a healthy snack.

Teachers Love Treats

Your children’s teachers are working hard, day in and day out! Show them some love and appreciation with simple gifts or gestures – it doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Some examples are a nice thank-you note, a cold or hot beverage (depending on the weather!), a basket of snacks for the staff lounge, a morning treat (like muffins or donuts), or extra supplies like pens, pencils, dry erase markers, or binder clips!

Make Prayer a Priority!

It’s so important to pray intentionally and specifically for your children – for wisdom, favor, protection, confidence, identity, and even for their future careers and spouses! Be diligent in covering them with the Word of God. And, don’t forget to pray for yourself! Ask God to help you recognize the uniqueness and gifting in your kids, to humbly seek His direction, and to operate in wisdom as you raise them in a godly way.

Success awaits you and your children this school year!